UFC 293 concluded with a shock as Sean Strickland pulled off the predominant upset to place shut the middleweight title from Israel Adesanya. Earlier than that, some standout performances on the predominant card save Alexander Volkov and Manel Kape on an spell binding route. Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim react to the biggest moments of the night.
Israel Adesanya had everything dwelling up for him. He modified into once combating in Sydney, a short hop across the Tasman Sea from his dwelling in Auckland, Contemporary Zealand. It modified into once Adesanya’s first bout Down Underneath since he won the UFC middleweight championship in 2019. Relief then, he save on a sublime efficiency both contained within the cage and throughout a boldly choreographed walkout. Now he modified into once abet, over again positioned to entertain the fans in his nook of the arena.
But Sean Strickland as an different turned the UFC 293 predominant match into his ticket on Saturday, walking down Adesanya for five rounds and battering him to abolish a transparent unanimous option and change into 185-pound champ in a comely shocker.
This match at Qudos Financial institution Arena modified into once conceived as an Adesanya showcase. Strickland modified into once a Thought B opponent booked for the title fight simplest after Dricus Du Plessis, who grew to alter into the end-ranked 185-pound contender two months within the past with an upset of used champ Robert Whittaker, might per chance per chance well now not produce this date. Strickland modified into once well down within the middleweight rankings and on comely a two-fight winning drag. The American’s résumé showed now not a single victory over anyone within the end 5.
But Strickland modified into once ready and prepared, and even as a 5-1 making a bet underdog, he modified into once the correct foil for Adesanya. Strickland is a fighter who plods forward, unafraid of getting hit. And hitting is what Adesanya is identified for.
On this night, though, Adesanya modified into once the one getting hit. The worst of it came late in Round 1, when Strickland landed a straight comely hand that dropped the champ then pounced with a flurry of left-handed haymakers on the canvas. Adesanya survived to the horn and even won the 2nd spherical on the scorecards, but the champ absorbed method over he dealt out for the leisure of the fight.
Adesanya connected with comely 34% of his strikes. And it wasn’t deal with Strickland modified into once arduous to search out. The challenger comely saved marching forward, and the champ might per chance per chance well now not stop those advances.
How many miles did Strickland duvet over the fight’s 25 minutes? That is arduous to estimate. But one thing is evidently: Not a form of steps modified into once backward. He wore down Adesanya, and because the final seconds ticked off the clock in Round 5, Strickland sensed the moment and started talking to the champ as he walked him down. When the horn sounded, Strickland raised his fingers in triumph.
After the scores had been read — all three judges had it 49-46 — Strickland broke into tears. He covered his face because the gold belt modified into once wrapped around his waist. Adesanya then raised the arm of his conqueror because the team roared. It modified into once a moment.
And but Strickland gifts a brand contemporary direct for the UFC. Not simplest is he a miles boom from the dominant champions of the UFC’s previous, but Strickland has courted controversy with racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments. To this level, Dana White has pushed aside concerns over those comments, but the procure over Adesanya has made it extra hard for the UFC to brush aside.
Lengthy gone are the times when Demetrious Johnson modified into once piling up 11 consecutive defenses of the men’s flyweight title, when Anderson Silva modified into once squashing the desires of 10 straight middleweight challengers and when Georges St-Pierre modified into once beating down nine welterweight contenders in a row.
A deep-rooted UFC championship reign is a rarity this present day. Alexander Volkanovski has made 5 defenses of his featherweight belt, and he’s the very most sensible reigning champ with a pair of title defense. (Heavyweight titlist Jon Jones made eight defenses throughout his crack of break of day heavyweight reign and three throughout his 2nd.) Volkanovski is the very most sensible most modern UFC champion topped before final year.
Rob into narrative the volatility throughout the championship vow throughout the previous 5 months. Three weeks within the past at UFC 292, Sean O’Malley took away the men’s bantamweight title from Aljamain Sterling. UFC 291 modified into once the uncommon pay-per-ask match with no title bouts. (The BMF belt modified into once on the dual carriageway, but what supremacy does that signify?) At UFC 290 in early July, Alexandre Pantoja dethroned Brandon Moreno at men’s flyweight. Amanda Nunes successfully defended her bantamweight title at UFC 289 but straight retired, leaving two women’s titles vacant. Sterling retained his belt at UFC 288, but his time as champ modified into once counting down. And one more title modified hands at UFC 287 in April, when Adesanya regained championship location — which soon might per chance per chance well well be grabbed faraway from him over again.
A UFC championship flee has change into a speed, now not a marathon. Titles absorb modified hands or champs absorb otherwise left belts within the abet of at 5 of the previous seven UFC pay-per-views. Three of the corporate’s 12 weight courses are vacant at the end. 5 champs absorb zero title defenses.
Now, the middleweight division has a journeyman fighter carrying its crown. Strickland modified into once 2-2 in his four most most modern fights coming into this night. But there’s no begrudging him his accomplishment. He traveled internationally to Adesanya’s dwelling space and won the belt comely and square. And Strickland modified into once one amongst the heaviest underdogs ever to capture UFC gold.
Will Strickland’s time at the end be short, following the most modern type, or will he absorb staying vitality? And throughout his reign, for however prolonged it lasts, will he elevate the game? We’re about to search out out.
Who’s next for the contemporary champ and used champ?
Okamoto: What ought to be next? A rematch.
I deem Dana White summed this up perfectly on the night of the fight. He said an instantaneous rematch makes sense and even puzzled if Adesanya modified into once flat coming off the fight of his profession in opposition to Alex Pereira in April. White said he does not absorb those answers, but Adesanya does. And that’s the comely manner of phrasing it, in my ask.
This fight, this consequence, left us with questions. Give Strickland credit score. I’m now not seeking to clutch anything else faraway from him. But I deem we all would agree that UFC 293 modified into once a flat efficiency by Adesanya. And that begs the quiz: Why?
Became once it what White threw out, that Adesanya had a minute little bit of a hangover from that necessary fight in April? Or modified into once it simply Strickland’s defensive prowess and awkward rhythm that gave him a sound fit?
It’s a long way a quiz price discovering the resolution to straight.
If the title rematch does not happen for one reason or one more — and with White prepared to discuss it on the night of the fight, that doesn’t seem seemingly — then Dricus Du Plessis is the first title to enter the conversation.
Middleweight is ready to witness diverse circulate, between this consequence and next month’s fight between Paulo Costa and Khamzat Chimaev. There shall be rather a lot to kind out within the upcoming months at 185 kilos.
But within the waste, if the UFC can now not produce an instantaneous rematch for the belt, I would anticipate Strickland to face Du Plessis next.
Occupy we underestimated Alexander Volkov?
Raimondi: The record of the opponents at heavyweight who other folks deem might per chance per chance well direct Jon Jones — if Jones beats Stipe Miocic and sticks around — is short. It’s on the total led by guys deal with Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall. Volkov is rarely mentioned within the identical breath.
And probably that is rightfully so. Volkov has misplaced to Aspinall, Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes. But the 6-foot-7 Russian fighter has won three in a row after taking out Tai Tuivasa with a uncommon Ezekiel choke submission at UFC 293.
Volkov is comely 34 years veteran. Heavyweights top late in MMA. We can even simply be simplest seeing the very most sensible version of him now — or per chance we haven’t but, though he has been a legitimate since 2009.
Let’s additionally make certain here. Volkov’s top and 80-scuttle reach produce him a stylistic nightmare for many opponents. He additionally within reason skilled on the feet. Take into account how grand Jones struggled in 2013 in opposition to Alexander Gustafsson? Many other folks said Gustafsson’s sheer size by myself gave Jones suits. Volkov is severely greater than Gustafsson.
We would on no narrative earn to witness that matchup. Jones might per chance per chance well high-tail off into the sundown after a procure or loss in opposition to Miocic at UFC 295 on Nov. 10 in Contemporary York. Aspinall and Pavlovich are indubitably sooner than Volkov as possible contenders comely now. But don’t be tremendously surprised if Volkov hangs around reach the end 5 for a minute bit and stays a threat as a heavyweight contender transferring forward.
Volkov currently moved to Las Vegas along with his household, and he has benefited somewhat rather a lot from the energy, conditioning and skills supplied by the UFC Performance Institute. That will per chance well well be the article that gets him over the crawl.
Who’s next for Volkov?
Okamoto: Derrick Lewis
I declare? Volkov is a hard one. He’s simplest 34, a technique or the other. It feels deal with he has been around for a in point of fact very prolonged time and fought nearly every person. One direct is that he has misplaced about a of the biggest fights of his profession — and in spectacular vogue. He got dominated on the scorecards of 5-spherical fights in opposition to Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes. He did not final a spherical with Tom Aspinall.
Whenever you absorb a fighter who has misplaced so convincingly to the end of the division, it comely limits the curiosity in seeing him earn one more crack.
He has a history with Lewis, in that they fought in 2018. Volkov modified into once winning the fight, unless Lewis created some third-spherical magic. Lewis comely re-signed with the UFC, and I have faith he’ll wish to earn going on that contemporary, profitable contract. The history here is relaxing, and the fight makes sense per the rankings.
Wild card: Serghei Spivac
Solely due to rankings and timing. Spivac comely fought final weekend. It did not crawl his manner in opposition to Gane, but Spivac will mute be on a the same timeframe as Volkov. There might per chance be now not grand of a storyline on this doable matchup nor would it mean a colossal deal for any title conversation, however it would produce sense, and it has but to happen.
Who’s next for Manel Kape?
Okamoto: Kai Kara-France
In his postfight interview, Kape told Kara-France, “I will fight you next,” and I completely don’t witness any scenario true thru which Kape is tainted about that.
As we all know, that modified into once the fight within the starting save booked for UFC 293 before Kara-France modified into once forced to pull out due to injury. It’s mute the fight to present, and the UFC has masses of promotional cloth. Kape has looked terrific; there’s no other manner to divulge it. Clear, Felipe dos Santos modified into once a minute little bit of extra competitive than most thought he might per chance per chance well well be going in. But within the pause, Kape modified into once within the motive force’s seat, and he appears to be like to be a long way extra happy within the Octagon than he did in 2021, when his UFC profession got off to a 0-2 beginning.
Stylistically, these two match up beautifully. It’ll be a colossal fight. I would cherish to witness it as a predominant match. Give the flyweights some shine and the fight shall be extraordinarily bright.
Wild card: Matheus Nicolau
Again, I produce now not witness anything else transferring into the manner of the Kara-France matchup. But if one thing does, I deal with this rematch. These two fought in 2021, with Nicolau taking a split option. Nicolau is mute ranked higher, but he’s coming off a loss to Brandon Royval. From a rankings level of view, this one would produce sense but lower than the home flee Kara-France matchup.